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Re: [ARSCLIST] Electric cylinders

Hi Will-

This passage is from Ron Dethlefson's book "Edison Blue Amberol 
Recordings, Volume 2, 1915-1929", ISBN 0-9606466-4-4, page 417:
"The following document [4-27-1929 memo - W.H. Sullivan to C.S Williams 
Jr.] shows that Blue Amberols were electrically dubbed, probably in an 
attempt to make them sound as good as other low priced electrical records 
offered by dime stores and other record makers. [. . .] Just when 
electrical dubbing began is unclear.  I have noticed a marked improvement 
in fidelity in my Blue Amberols beginning about record No. 5600 in late 
1928, but electrical dubbing could haven begun as early as November 1927, 
when the first electrical Diamond Discs were dubbed to cylinders."

I personally haven't heard any of these 5600 or 5700 series Blue 
Amberols.  Edison NHS has a good set of the electrical Edison discs, but 
not any of the 5600-5700 series Blue Amberol dubs. 

At a certain point, both Edison and Columbia companies redesigned their 
wax cylinder dictation phonographs to use microphones rather than speaking 
tubes for recording.  David Morton's "History of Recording Technology" 
website, referring to wax cylinder dictation phonographs, 
states:  "Electronics and microphones, both well-advanced by the 1920s, 
were not used at all in dictation until the late 1930s, and even then 
the "acoustic" models were still in use for many years."  [See: 

I have heard electrically recorded dictation cylinder experiments.  One 
test that survives at Edison NHS is actually a microphone comparison.  

It would take some searching, but it probably would not be too difficult 
to determine a more precise date for the Edison Co's switch from speaking 
tube to microphone wax cylinder dictation machines.  If this would be 
helpful, please send an email request directly to my NPS email address.

-Jerry Fabris
Museum Curator
Edison National Historic Site, West Orange, NJ

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